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Bahrain Bay chief woos UK firms with chance of foothold in region

The man behind the £1.7 billion Bahrain Bay redevelopment is on the hunt for UK contractors interested in breaking into the country’s market, which he describes as “a great launching pad” for work across the Middle East.

Bahrain Bay chief executive Bob Vincent said there were “enormous opportunities” for contractors wanting to get a foothold in Bahrain.

He will spend the next six months “making contact with the best in the field”, and encouraged UK-based contractors to strongly consider opportunities in the “small but stable” Bahrain market.

Although the kingdom has been overlooked in recent years in favour of the booming states of Dubai and Qatar, it has been less affected by the financial crisis than its Gulf neighbours.

It is expected that contracts will be tendered for as many as five new developments - each worth between £100 million and £300m - at Bahrain Bay before the end of the year. The projects will include hotels, offices and a
mixed-use tower.

A string of other major developments are starting up in the kingdom, including procurement for the construction of two new terminals at Bahrain International Airport as part of a £3.2bn redevelopment of the site.

A design-and-build contract on the £530m Nomas Tourism City for Bahraini Projects has also been put to market. The development includes four mixed-use towers comprising residential apartments, offices, hotels and other
leisure facilities.

Other jobs advertised include the Le Reef residential scheme - which comprises two 10-storey buildings - and Muharraq Mall, where plans include 100 shops, six cinemas and a coastal walkway.

Mr Vincent suggested Bahrain could be of particular interest to British firms that had not gained experience working in the Gulf. “I think it is a good opportunity for people who have never been to the Middle East before,” he said.

“Many contractors have not focused on it in the past because it is considered so small in comparison
to Qatar and Dubai.

“But there is enormous opportunity for good supply lines to take a foothold in this project. “If you were looking at potentially making a long-term commitment to the market in the Middle East, then Bahrain is a great launching pad.”

He added that developers in Bahrain were dusting off projects that had been put on hold during the recession: “They are seriously looking at start-ups.”

Civil works on the Bahrain Bay project, which is sited on reclaimed land off the coast of Manama, began in March 2008 and are now 80 per cent finished. Scheduled completion is in October.

The project comprises a total of 1.7 million sq m of built-up area, including between 30,000 and 40,000 residences.

More than 60 per cent of the land has been sold to third-party developers, who will be procuring upcoming works.
Mr Vincent said: “The projects will be developed by third-party companies, but we will be creating the network of construction contractors who may be interested in providing this work.”

He reassured those hit by the recession. “We don’t allow developers in Bahrain Bay to sell off-plan,” Mr Vincent said.

Bahrain Bay’s majority shareholder, Arcapita Bank, has already begun construction on a new headquarters as part of the scheme, as has another Bahraini Bank, Al Baraka.

The company is backed by international investors, including a host of Indian and Gulf developers, a Sharia fund based in Switzerland - which will build a boutique hotel - and Singapore’s CapitaLand, which will develop 18 per cent of the site with a Rafael Viñolydesigned mixed-use scheme.

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